What Does Winning the Lottery Have to Do With Marriage and Heaven? Part 2 [Video]
Though heavenly glory awaits us, there is a warning--a word of caution. There are two types of Christ-followers who will enter this glorious eternal realm: The Rewarded Believer and the Unrewarded Believer. (If you are anything like me, you do not want to be the Unrewarded Believer.)
The Rewarded Believer
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:14, "If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward."
He had just said in 1 Corinthians 3:8, "Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor."
The believer receives a reward on top of the free gift of heaven, which no one can earn. Eternal life is a free gift in and of itself, but there is a kind of “add on.” The Lord promises to reward the individual believer for faithfulness in doing the work of God.
Here’s the critical question: Did you know that some believers will receive a free gift of eternal life but will not receive rewards in heaven?
The Unrewarded Believer
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 3:15 by saying, "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."
Earlier Paul had said, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). He then explains, “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work” (3:12,13).
Note that he mentioned the following substances: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw. The last three--wood, hay and straw--burn.
We can believe in Jesus Christ, and yet the way in which we live our lives can be superficial and hypocritical, having no eternal value. When tested with God's fire the work we supposedly did for God’s Kingdom burns up because our whole motive was for self, or we never participated in Kingdom work. Nothing we did had eternal significance. On a practical basis we lived like an atheist, though in our deepest hearts we believed in Jesus. Our belief and our behavior did not match.
Sad, but true.
Yes, some can say they believe and by their behavior prove they are not true believers. Some are saying, as Jesus said, “Lord, Lord,” but He did not know them. However, Paul makes the point that some can truly believe but do nothing for the Kingdom of Christ.
The Apostle John strikes a similar chord. He reveals that some of us can live a life of godliness and wisdom with great fruitfulness, but later in life choose to distrust and disobey Christ. We lose the reward that we had gained.
We read in 2 John 1:8, "Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."
A believer can “lose.” Remember what Paul said? A believer can "suffer loss."
What does the unrewarded believer look like compared to the rewarded believer?
I am uncertain.
All I know is that he can lose his whole reward or part of his reward. He is in glory, but with less than he ought to have.
Paul and John do not see this as a good thing.
What can a “saved” person do to prevent his work from being “burned up?” What can he do not to “suffer loss?”
It revolves around God’s work, but this work to which Paul refers is not to be restricted to the professional ministry that clergy fulfill. It is much bigger and broader than formal church work.
Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."
The key phrase is “whatever you do."
Not only did this apply to a slave who did his menial tasks for his master, but earlier Paul applies this idea to all believers when he pens in Colossians, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
Here’s the most exciting application: Paul applies this to the married and the the family unit.
Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
To the apostle Paul, there are 3 groups God especially intends to reward: parents, the married, and the indentured workforce.
Obviously Paul, who unfolds this teaching, was unmarried without children, so what we learn is that anyone who does what he does unto Jesus Christ, or as Paul commonly expresses it, “as to the Lord” is doing the major work of Christ. Still Paul highlights these 3 groups to remind us that nothing we do here is menial.
In Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 and 6, Paul teaches that when we do what we do “as to the Lord,” this meets with Christ’s reward. The idea is payback.
Ephesians 6:7 says, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men…”
Ephesians 6:8 says, “...knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.” (NIV: "will reward each one for whatever good they do”)
No doubt Paul had the words of our Lord in mind. Jesus said in Luke 14:14, “and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
We will also inherit something. On the one side, the inheritance is a free gift. But apparently there is an inheritance for doing what we do unto Jesus:
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-36)
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:23)
This is a general principle. Earlier he applies this to all of us, not just slaves when he says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
The bottom line is this: The work is about doing what we do unto Christ.
We are to see Jesus beyond the shoulder of everyone and do what you do “as to the Lord.” God rewards this no matter what work we do.
Have you considered that God calls you to do marriage and to parent His way unto Jesus Christ...as to the Lord…to receive His reward?
This is not about your spouse or children per se, but about Christ who stands beyond your spouse and child.
God intends to reward you for how you do this work heartily for the Lord.
Have you ever prayed about this?
Here is such a prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I thank you that You intend to Reward me throughout eternity. I thank you that though Heaven is a free gift that I cannot earn, You have created an upgrade, so to speak. You have provided an incentive to be loving and respectful toward You, the One beyond the shoulder of my spouse and child. Thank you for revealing this to me. It isn’t about my spouse or child, it is about You. I can do this work unto You and will hear ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’ Lord, let me not lose what I have gained. Let me be the Rewarded Believer, not the Unrewarded Believer. In Jesus Name. Amen."